Oak Bay girls take on rugby

The 'gentlemen’s game' is no longer just for boys

For the first time in its nearly 85-year history, Oak Bay High school will be fielding a girls rugby team, starting with home games on the school’s field April 12.

The rugby sevens team will take on Stelly’s, Claremont and Glenlyon Norfolk secondary school teams at Oak Bay High in a mini-jamboree format. The games start at 3 p.m. and run until about 5 p.m.

This is a new team in a new league for the school district. There were no tryouts, just a promise that if you wanted to join the team, you would be on it. Fifty girls showed up for the information sessions and 33 signed up for the team.

Coaching the team is former Canadian women’s national team player and Victoria police officer Marley Riordan and David Crossley, coach of the women’s team at Castaway Wanderers rugby club. Staff sponsor and lifelong rugby fan Lisa Kratz was also instrumental in getting the team up and running.

“It’s so exciting and the girls are so jazzed,” Kratz said.

Kratz credits the increasing popularity of the sport with the successes of the national women’s team and with the local presence of its stars, with Rugby Canada headquartered in Greater Victoria.

“I think it’s just more on people’s minds now,” Kratz said. “That rugby for women can be successful and viable.”

The nature of the sport, in how it supports athletes with a wide range of body types, also makes it appealing for the high school, Kratz said.